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Market Competition, C-Suite Value Proposition, and Barriers for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Among Topics Discussed

December 6, 2023

As part of ongoing efforts to gather private-sector input on implementation of the U.S. Government National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology (USG NSSCET), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and BakerHostetler co-hosted a Dec. 6 listening session in New York.

The session brought together private-sector stakeholders and representatives from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), including Dr. Laurie Locascio, Director of NIST and the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, and Dr. Jayne Morrow, NIST Senior Advisor for Standards Policy. Opening remarks were provided by Margaret Butler, Partner at BakerHostetler and Fran Schrotter, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the American National Standards Institute.

Participants discussed the following topics:

  • Increasing public-private investment in critical and emerging technology (CET).
  • Embedding CET standards development activities into the research and development cycle.
  • Incentivizing greater international CET standards participation from the private sector.

Private Sector Leadership in Standards

Participants emphasized that amidst the evolving international standards landscape, the private sector-led approach must be promoted and protected in the implementation of the USG NSSCET.

The group addressed the difference between standards and regulation, with one panelist commenting that a likely outcome of future CET standards development activities will center on “standards coherence” not “regulatory harmonization.”

Market Competition Concerns

Market competition was highlighted as key. While guardrails should exist, CET standards should be developed in an ecosystem of market competition, similar to other aspects of technology innovation. It was noted that CET standards meetings are a public process, and if a company wants to understand the competition, reading a company’s technical standards contributions is a good indicator. 

It was recognized that business leaders need to help drive the CET standards conversation, but they must first ask themselves, “Why participate in standardization?” Before taking the plunge into CET standards development, companies must determine if they are going to be market leaders or followers. 

Educating Executives on Standards Development

Educating c-suite executives was identified as an area for improvement. Panelists agreed that when it comes to standards, the U.S. could do more to address the value of standards development—especially for non-technical decision-makers. The return on investment is different for various executives. The overall messaging around standards, including the reasons to participate in standards development organization activities, needs to be updated to resonate more with stakeholders. 

Barriers for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Additionally, considerations associated with standards development are different for small- and medium-sized businesses compared to larger, organizations. This is especially true when it comes to regulations and approaches to research and development. For instance, the costs associated with filing patents may have greater impact on smaller organizations.  

Engaging with Global Talent

Participants agreed that leveraging global talent pools is critical and noted that attracting and retaining engagement by a diverse range of participants in standards development activities remains a challenge. Additionally, it was noted that striving to include more PhDs may not always be the best approach. Rather, CET standards development activities should aim to incorporate more participants from the business community with real-world implementation experience. For instance, if CET standards messaging is presented to an accelerator focused on a specific technology area (i.e., biotech, quantum, artificial intelligence), there is a higher chance of generating better awareness of standards development activities with additional communities and stakeholders.


Created April 16, 2024